When it comes to getting new content, Tolkien's fans can sometimes feel like Frodo awaiting Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring. Fortunately, the wait is almost over, and it's time to set out on a new adventure with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power coming out on September 2nd! 🎥

The Lord of The Rings, once said to be unfilmable by S.Kubrick, is now set to be the base of possibly the most expensive show ever created, with just the first season costing $462 million. It's also already managed to spark controversy and divide the fans due to the decision not to consult the director of the movie trilogy, Peter Jackson. However, it's not surprising when you realize how many hearts worldwide the story's stolen – reportedly, including the billionaire Jeff Bezos himself.

Not every work of fiction has its dedicated academic studies too, so if you're still not familiar with the franchise, this may be the perfect opportunity to catch up and see what it's all about!

Every journey requires preparation, and since the Tolkien Estate was confirmed to consult Amazon's massive release, we can expect the original source to be a reliable source of information. What can we find once we reach the depths of Middle-earth? ⛰️ Our calculator can help you plan the 'LotR' marathon so you can find out!

Bilbo Baggins going on an adventure.
Millions of fans worldwide can feel like Bilbo thanks to the upcoming premiere of The Rings of Power.

No matter if you're entirely new to the universe or possess knowledge as vast as Galadriel, we will help you make the best out of your experience. There's a lot to explore, so without any further ado, let's get at it!

One does not simply get into the 'LotR'… unless they use a calculator

Alright, you decided to embark on the journey and explore the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien. Sounds good, but where do you start? How long will it take you? What pizza size should you order? There are many questions, but don't worry! Our calculator can help you plan every step of your LotR experience and estimate how much time you'll need to set aside. How exactly are we going to do that?

Boromir warning the potential LotR marathoners.
Boromir has a warning for the people who want to watch the movies. Readers aren't much safer, though.
  1. We need to begin with learning about your preferences. What do you enjoy more, books or movies? Or, perhaps, you want to give both a try and see how they differ? This choice is a bit like picking a GPS route – it affects what you'll see later in the calculator.

  2. Decide when you'll set off to visit Middle-earth. We can't give you an estimated time of arrival if we don't know when you start!

  3. If you can read Elvish opt for books:

    • Since it's a marathon, think about your reading pace. An average is 0.5 pages per minute – how close are you to this speed? Our tool lets you either use an estimate or input an accurate value if you happen to know it!

    • Consider how much time you want to spend reading daily.

    • A difficult one now. What reading order do you want to choose? This option also lets you skip some of the stories that happen in the same universe but aren't directly incorporated into the trilogy.

  4. If you're more of a movie person:

    • What is your watching style? Do you binge-watch everything or spread the fun over time?

    • Think about how much time you can spend in front of a screen daily. If you're planning to finish everything in one go – will you need any breaks?

    • Are you planning to watch both movie trilogies? If so, you can do it chronologically or follow the release order.

    • Finally, are you willing to spend extra 2 hours watching the extended versions?

  5. If you want to know the LotR inside out, you'll probably decide to go for books and movies together. In this case, everything from the previous steps applies with a tiny addition – you need to choose what type of media you'll start with!

Regardless of your choices, you'll see that your marathon will take at least a few hours. Admittedly, the lore of The Lord of the Rings takes a bit of time to get familiar with, but its richness will reward your efforts.

Now, time to sit back, relax and have some popcorn (or other snacks). 🍿 You can also consider lighting the beacons of Gondor and asking your friends to accompany you on this adventure!

Aragorn saying that Gondor calls for aid.
An example of how not to respond to the beakers of Gondor being lit.

How do I get to Mordor? The best possible order

"All right then, Omni Calculator, keep your secrets," you may be thinking. After all, we told you how to use our tool; but how do you choose the best order?

Well, although there is no definite answer, there are some aspects to consider that may potentially make this decision easier for you.

Frodo asking about directions to Mordor.
Frodo knows how important knowing the right direction is.

You may be surprised to find out that Tolkien wrote multiple stories that happen in the same universe as the LotR. They were released as separate books: The Silmarillion can serve as an example of such. Luckily, following the publication order will give us a pleasant, complete story. That is:

  1. The Hobbit.
  2. The Fellowship of the Ring.
  3. The Two Towers.
  4. The Return of the King.
  5. The Silmarillion.
  6. Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth.
  7. The Children of Húrin.
  8. Beren and Lúthien.
  9. The Fall of Gondolin.

Here comes a hint: Amazon bought the rights only to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. This means, that if your goal is only to follow the upcoming show more easily, you should be fine reading just these books. Moreover, since the series is entirely separate from Jackson's movies, you could actually find contradictions between the productions.

On the other hand, the story is supposed to take place in Middle-earth's Second Age, making it a prequel to the adapted books. Funnily enough, this period is described more in-depth in the stories. Therefore, if you can spare some time, familiarizing yourself with them might aid your understanding of the world.

Does that mean that you shouldn't watch the movies? Absolutely not! First of all, not everyone enjoys reading, and that's fine. Even if you do, adaptations can help you visualize the text in your head. Finally, there will be some similarities to the movie trilogy in terms of the audiovisual setting. For example, both productions were recorded in New Zealand and share the same composer of the title theme. 🎶

What should we expect from Amazon’s Middle-earth?

For years, Peter Jackson's adaptations have been a bone of contention amongst fans. Some cannot accept the deviations from the books; others treat them as necessary for the movie format and enjoy the productions. The question is, can Amazon's show fulfill fans' hopes?

Galadriel explaining how her mirror works.
For some fans, The Rings of Power is a chance to finally watch a satisfying adaptation.

Although nothing can be certain until the first season is released, it seems that the showrunners have taken the challenge seriously. In the interview with Deutsche Tolkien Gesellschaft, Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey confirmed that the Tolkien Estate could veto any uncanonical changes.

Another bit of promising news is that the fans invited to Amazon's sneak peek event seemed satisfied with the footage they watched, although they retained some skepticism.

Obviously, we cannot forget about the impressive full-length trailer that has been recently released. While we shouldn't count our rings before they are forged, it seems that The Rings of Power will give us a few hours of solid entertainment without straying from Tolkien's story. All that's left is finding the right distance to watch your TV to enjoy these expensive effects in the best quality.

What does the Mirror of Galadriel say about franchise’s future?

As you, hopefully, will find out soon enough – or already know – the Mirror of Galadriel can show its user some images of the possible future, amongst other things. Since we already have such a powerful artifact, it'd be a waste not to ask it about what's next for The Lord of the Rings!

Amazon Studios aren't playing around – the second season of The Rings of Power was already ordered in November 2019. On top of the multi-season commitment, their deal included a potential spin-off series. If the show turns out to be a success, the upcoming years will be very thrilling for the Ringers. You could liken it to the renaissance of Star Wars after the premiere of The Force Awakens.

There's also good news for avid readers. 📚 From November 10, you'll be able to lay your hands on a new Tolkien book, The Fall of Númenor. For the people who aren't as keen on the written word as on Middle-earth, this may be the motivation to complete their yearly reading challenge.

Overall, it seems there will be plenty of new content to enjoy. If you're considering getting into The Lord of the Rings, now might be the best moment before there's too much catching up to do! We hope that our calculator will help you truly enjoy this journey.

Madhu Raman and Michael Darcy
Amazon's LotR series 💍 is the talk of the town! Use this tool to prepare yourself for joining in on the discussions when the ball drops 🌐. Love it ❤️ or hate it 😠, you just can't ignore it!

Gandalf quote about time
I'm interested in...
books 📚
I will start on...
Books
My reading speed is...
normal
Which translates to...
page(s)
per minute
I read for about...
hrs
per day
Reading order
Publication order
You need 110 days for your LotR experience. It means that you will finish by Jan 18, 2023.
Reading order
1. The Hobbit - 304 pages, 10 days of reading.

2. The Fellowship of the Ring - 479 pages, 16 days of reading.

3. The Two Towers - 415 pages, 14 days of reading.

4. The Return of the King - 347 pages, 12 days of reading.

5. The Silmarillion - 365 pages, 12 days of reading.

6. Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth - 472 pages, 16 days of reading.

7. The Children of Hurin - 320 pages, 11 days of reading.

8. Beren and Luthien - 288 pages, 10 days of reading.

9. The Fall of Gondolin - 304 pages, 10 days of reading.

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